If there’s anything recent election outcomes have taught us, it’s that anything can happen. The country has woken up to a hung parliament, which spells even more uncertainty for businesses as we enter into Brexit negotiations. So, whilst the parties jostle to try to form a government, what could we expect for employment law?
Both parties are promising to guarantee existing workers’ rights throughout the Brexit process and offer enhancements, but the Tories’ are limited. If they are able to form a coalition, they propose to better protect gig economy workers, increase employee representation on company boards and simplify the tax system for the self-employed, while Labour, if able to run a minority government, would try to effect more radical proposals that all workers would have equivalent rights to employees from day one. Additionally, they would seek to ban zero-hours contracts and unpaid internships, remove the cap on public sector pay increases, crack down on NMW evasion and abolish Employment tribunal fees.
Along with enhanced workers’ rights, the parties have postulated that they will tackle workplace inequality. While both have proposed to improve gender pay gap reporting, the Tories are also calling for ethnic minority pay gap reporting to become mandatory. Better deals for families are being promised by both, with Labour proposing significant increases in free and subsidised childcare on the one hand, and the Tories encouraging employers to consider more flexible working options on the other. Both are claiming these policy enhancements will get more women into senior, higher paid jobs.
The Tories have additionally planned NICs incentives for companies taking on long-term unemployed workers and those with medical conditions or previous convictions, and have made tackling our current skills shortage a priority. They plan to do so by reforming tertiary education and increasing the number of apprenticeships, while Labour have chosen instead to focus on strengthening Trade Unions to bestow more power upon workers.
In the meantime, uncertainty prevails, and we’re playing a waiting game once more. If the Conservatives do succeed in forming a government, we’ll be interested to see how they put their plans around immigration and addressing skills shortages into action – and whether May manages to hang onto her leadership.